Exterminator Hate Mite Calls

Dust mite phone calls are an unwelcome call for all pest control companies. More specifically, though, less specific is the caller to an exterminator that says “I have mites and I need you to come out and spray.”

It is not that the pest control business does not want the business, it is that there is not much an exterminator can do. A competent pest control professional would follow up the caller’s request with some questions:

  1. Do you see the mites? [Almost always, no. They are not visible]
  2. What makes you say you have mites? [Normally biting or itching]

Though we have bugs here in Florida called “no see ‘ums”, these are actually midges, a kind of tiny, biting fly. And while they are hardly visible, they are visible. But aside from that, there are no other invisible bugs for a pest control professional to treat.

Believe it or not, this is a very common phone call for exterminators. But it is not that we do not believe the caller. There is no doubt that they are experiencing an issue that would appear to be a bite or itch of some sort. Mites can be a problem. There are mites that bite. But when the culprit cannot be seen, something else is going on. So, the question is, what can we do about it?

No ethical pest control professional will treat an undiagnosed problem. And when someone asks you to “spray” for something that you cannot see, they are asking you to treat an undiagnosed issue.

Years ago, I recall reading a story about how mites had been blamed for biting office workers. It turned out paper fibers from copy paper embedding themselves in people’s skin was actually the issue.

Any exterminator that takes on a job such as this risks two things. The first is, “spraying” for something that you cannot see or identify is illegal. We must always follow the label, the label is the law. There is no pest control product for “invisible insects”. The second issue is that, it is very, very unlikely that anything you “spray” will have any effect on the problem, so now you have an upset customer and will likely want their money back.

Knowing that, lets take a closer look at mites…

Dust Mites and Their Families

Belonging to the Animalia kingdom, under the phylum ‘Arthropoda’ and subphylum ‘Chelicerata’, dust mites come from the class ‘Arachnida’ and subclass ‘Acari’. The class Arachnida comprises of invertebrate animals (also known as ‘arthropods’) with joint legs. This class (Arachnida) has 4 superorders under it;  Pseudoscorpionida, Parasitiformes,  

Acariformes and Solifugae. Out of these 4 superorders, the parasitiformes and the acariformes belong to the subclass ‘Acari’. Acari consists of ticks and mites. Acariformes is a super diverse superorder of mites, it contains an estimate of 351 families of 32000 described species and a varying range of 440000 to 929000 of undescribed species. Another name for acarformes is ‘Actinotrichida’. Looking further into it, under this superorder come two suborders; number one being ‘Trombidiformes’ and number two being ‘Sarcoptiformes’. The suborder trombidiformes consists of chiggers, velvet mites, etc, whereas, the suborder sarcoptiformes consists of dust and fur mites. Since dust mites are our main topic we will look even further into this suborder. Sarcoptiformes has 230 families with over 15000 described species. The family a dust mite belongs to is called ‘Pyroglyphidae’. There are four main species of dust mites and following are their names:

  1. Dermatophagoides farinae (American house dust mite)
  2. Euroglyphus maynei (Mayne’s house dust mite)
  3. Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (European house dust mite)
  4. Dermatophagoides microceras

Physical Appearance

Dust mites are microscopic arthropods. An adult dust mite is of the average size 0.5mm, while their young offspring are obviously even smaller. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an adult or an immature dust mite, to see them you need a magnification glass or a 10x microscope, because its impossible to locate them with the naked eye.  Mites have a pretty similar body plan as the ticks. For example, just like ticks, mites too have two bodily regions, the first one being the ‘cephalothorax’ and the other being the ‘opisthosoma’. The opisthosoma refers to the abdomen of the insect whereas, the cephalothorax means that the insect does not have a sperate head, but one that is infused together with the thorax.  Another name for cephalothorax is ‘prosoma’. Even though there are segments to the body it doesn’t seem like it because the cephalothorax and the opisthosoma are so close together, it’s as if they’re fused. However, segmentation can be located through the location and position of the limbs. On the front side of the body is the capitulum, which is also known as ‘gnathosoma’. The capitulum is not a traditional head, in fact, it’s not even classified as ahead, it doesn’t have a brain nor does it have eyes. The gnathosoma is basically just a retractable apparatus used for feeding and it consists of three things; the oral cavity, pedipalps and the chelicerae. This mouthpart is covered by an extension of the upper exoskeleton called a ‘caraspace’ and the caraspace is then, through flexible cuticles, connected to the body. Moreover, like most other insects, mites have multiple pairs of legs. 4 to be precise. And these 4 pairs have 6 segments each. The genital opening, also commonly known as the ‘gonopore’ is located between the fourth pairs of legs on the ventral surface. Furthermore, dust mites are of a creamy white shade, support a globe-like body and have striped cuticles. 

Adult dust mite

Fascinating Facts About Dust Mites

  • Female dust mites can live from anywhere between 65-100 days whereas the average lifespan of a male dust mite is one month.
  • Dust mites eat skin particles of humans and animals.
  • Skin particles are not a dust mite’s only food source, they sometimes feed on mold particles as well.
  • Because of their size, it is impossible to see them with some sort of aid.
  • Pseudoscorpions and silverfish are some of the commonly known predators of dust mite
  • Dust mites carry allergies, their fecal matter or dust particles can trigger allergies and sometimes even asthma.
  • A mated female can lay, anywhere from 60 to 100 eggs in the remaining 5 weeks of its life out of the short 10 weeks of overall life (average).
  • A dust mite can leave up to an estimate of 2000 fecal particle it’s entire life.
  • They are cosmopolitan creatures.
  • With the appropriate environment and climate, it takes dust mites about a month to develop into adults, from eggs.
  • Throughout their life, dust mites undergo 5 major developmental changes and they are egg, larva, protonymph, tritonymph, and adult.
  • Dust mites are so small that in just a gram of dust you can find thousands of them and if god forbid your mattress is infested, you can expect as many a couple million of these creatures.
  • Dust mites do not bite, however, they can cause an allergic reaction such as redness of the skin.

Where Can You Find Them, Why, Signs And Detection?

Dust mites as mentioned before are a cosmopolitan creature. What that means is that if not all, they are found in most regions of the world. They are found all over the globe, however, they prefer dark, humid and warmer areas and their location in such areas is much easier.

Since a dust mites food source consists of mainly skin particles and such, it is pretty obvious that they are quite commonly found in the human-populated area. As their name suggests, they nest in dusty areas, such as old books, mattresses, sofas and such.

One of the most common signs of an infestation is allergies. If you have unexplained itchiness, coughing, or are sneezing continuously but don’t know why it is reasonable if you suspect a dust mite infestation.

Since these creatures are so small, their detection van becomes pretty tricky, however, if you can get your hands on a 10x microscope or a magnifying glass, you can easily detect them by investigating dust particles from all over the house, such as from your mattress, your carpets, dusty shelves and so on.

7 Ways To Get Rid Dust Mites-Including Books

Getting completely rid of dust mites is nearly impossible, especially if there’s a huge infestation, which in most cases there is. So instead of trying to getting rid of them completely, sometimes it’s better to focus on reducing their numbers. If you have allergic reactions to them, you’ll see a difference just by the reduction, as triggering allergies is based on doses (meaning the amount of shedding, fecal matter, etc you inhale)

Below are some of the ways you can effectively gif rid of, or reduce their numbers.

  1. Temperature

Dust mites prefer an ideal temperature of anywhere between 24 degrees Celsius to 27 degrees Celsius and about  70 to 80 percent of humidity levels for their nesting grounds. Temperatures above or below these may not kill them but will definitely make them uncomfortable and they would most probably want to relocate, if you’re lucky and consistent of temperature throughout the house, they may relocate somewhere other than your home.

  1. Cleaning

Dust mites, as their names clearly suggest, nest in dusty areas. So, getting rid of dust thorough thorough cleaning such as vacuuming, dusting, etc will reduce their number if not diminish them. 

  1. Washing

Dust mites are a big fan of thicker materials such as carpets, drapes, clothes, cushion covers etc.regularly washing these fabrics in hot water will also help disinfect them of dust mites.

  1. Eucalyptus spray

A mixture of distilled water, organic liquid soap and a few drops of eucalyptus essential oil spray is surely going to help you keep your dust mite problem at bay

  1. Replace furniture and household items that are ideal places for infestation

As mentioned before, dust mites prefer thicker fabrics such as carpets and curtains, etc, so if you have an infestation going on, it’s advisable to rid your house of such ideal places. For example, you can replace carpets with wooden floors and curtains with plastic or wooden blinds.

  1. UV rays

Old books are one of the most common infestation areas as they gather dust page by page over time. Getting rid of them from books can be tricky, but one way is to leave the books out directly under the sun. the UV rays are strong enough to kill them.

  1. Covers

The best way to get rid of an infestation, no matter what the insect is, is to cut off their food supply. By covering common areas such as mattresses and cushions with plastic covers will not only cut off their food supply, that is skin particles and such but also help people that have allergies, as now there will be a barrier between you and these pesky little translucent creatures.

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Dusty Showers has been in the urban nuisance wildlife and pest control field since 1993. Taught by Garon Fyffe, a pioneer in humane nuisance wildlife management, Dusty has a passion for finding humane solutions to human & wildlife conflicts. Dusty was the only individual invited by the Florida Fish & Wildlife Commission in the lat 1990's to help write legislation for legal protection of Florida bats. With an instinct for solving wildlife, Dusty found pest control to be an easy "add-on interest". Dusty started his first business "Animal Instincts Wildlife & Pest Management" in the Tampa Bay, Florida area in 1995. Eventually selling Animal Instincts in 2002, Dusty went on to start Creepy Creatures Termite and Pest Control in 2009, which he still owns and operates today in Palm Harbor, Florida.

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